PMO reporting frequency is often a topic of debate. It is a balancing act to make sure that there the appropriate level of visibility of delivery activity while not creating a bureaucratic process. It is not in anyone’s interest where the projects are spending more time on reporting than on the actual delivery work.
Unfortunately, there is not a simple answer. As you will be aware, an organisation will typically have a number of projects all working to different time lines. However, I will provide some useful guidelines that should help you define the reporting frequency for your PMO.
Here are some of the considerations.
Projects can vary from a few months to many years. This will influence the reporting frequency. For a project is less than 1 year in duration you will want a more regular reporting cycle. The reason for this is that there is less time to deliver the project. Therefore, you need to react and take action quickly when the project starts to deviate from the agreed delivery plan.
For projects less than 1 year, I have usually opted for a weekly reporting cycle, fortnightly at a push. This provides the required visibility on progress and allows problems to be quickly identified. It is no good waiting 1 month to find out there is problems, you will be 1/12th into the project, meaning less time to recover.
To lessen the overhead on the project, consider a more light touch form of reporting. This eliminates the risk of bureaucracy.
For projects over 1 year, it is usually acceptable to opt for a fortnightly or monthly reporting cycle. There is usually more time to take action to keep the project on track.
In a number of businesses there is an agreed approach to reporting, usually monthly. If this is the case, it is difficult for a PMO to define a different frequency. If you do try, the project manager will quickly point you to what is defined in the methodology.
A way to address this is by setting up a regular catch-up with the project manager, 30 minutes weekly or fortnightly or should suffice. This will allow an open and honest (it is not being written on paper) update. This will allow the PMO to quickly identify risks and issues and then recommend action / allow escalation ahead of the monthly reporting cycle. A good project manager should welcome this as it will help them with their primary objective, delivering the project on time.
While there is no right or wrong answer to reporting frequency, reporting should be at a minimum monthly and weekly / fortnightly for projects under 1 year in duration. The PMO should supplement this with a regular catch-up with the project manager to quickly identify potential issues. This approach will help the project not create a reporting nightmare.